Anyone traveling in Hong Kong and China, or just reading the news here or on other sites, may be confused with Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines. These two separate airlines seem to share the same aircraft livery and have a similar company logo. This is no coincidence. The same parent company owns the two airlines, as this article explores.
Two airlines – both owned by HNA Group
Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines are two separately run and controlled airlines but have the same majority owner, HNA Group.
HNA is a major Chinese conglomerate headquartered in Haikou, China. It has a large number of investments both within China and overseas. These two airlines are its major airline acquisitions, and the Group reflects this using the same livery for each. The red and yellow design also bears similarities to the corporate logo for the HNA Group (red lettering with a yellow streak to the ‘A’).
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Hainan Airlines is the older of the two airlines. It was established in 1989 as Hainan Provincial Airlines and funded by the Hainan government and institutional shareholders. It was later renamed to Hainan Airlines in 1996, and shareholding transferred to the HNA Group when it was set up in 2000.
HNA Group is now the largest shareholder in the airline. This is handled through a complicated structure involving direct investment and holdings through Grand Air China (see this Wikipedia article for more details).
Hainan Airlines is the fourth-largest airline in China. It serves around 500 regional and international destinations from seven bases in China (including Haikou and Sanya in Hainan).
Hong Kong Airlines
Hong Kong Airlines was established in 2006, as a member of the HNA Group. It began with regional flights from Hong Kong (as well as freight services) and expanded internationally in 2012.
HNA Group owns more than airlines
HNA Group is a major investor both in China and overseas, with total assets of 1.23 trillion yuan ($194 billion) as of the end of 2017 (according to Caixin).
The Group was founded in January 2010, initially as a parent company for Hainan Airlines. It has expanded and diversified significantly since then, with major purchases in the aviation, tourism and logistics industries in particular.
Over time this has included major stakes in Hilton Worldwide (25 percent), NH Hotel Group (20 percent), New York skyscraper 245 Park Avenue (at $2.21 billion one of largest New York property transactions to date), and investments in finance companies Deutsche Bank, and US-based Old Mutual.
Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines are not the only aviation-related investments. Some of the others include (according to Wikipedia from the 2017 year financials):
- Virgin Australia (13 percent holding).
- Comair (6.2 percent).
- TAP Air Portugal (2.5 percent).
- Azul Brazilain Airlines (23.7 percent).
- Aigle Azur (HNA held a 48 percent stake before the airline ceased operations in 2019).
- Hong Kong Express (HNA sold its stake to Cathay Pacific in 2019).
- Swissport International. HNA purchased this major ground handler in 2015 for $2.8 billion and is currently trying to sell it (according to Reuters).
- A stake in travel retailer Dufry (20.92 percent).
Did you know the two airlines were owned by the same company? Let us know in the comments.